Thursday, July 30, 2015

John Kasich's super PAC tapped into his longtime core of Columbus contributors

Allies of Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his presidential campaign hauled in nearly $12 million over two months – much of it from the Buckeye State.

A report filed Thursday with the Internal Revenue Service shows that New Day for America raised the lion's share, collecting $11.1 million since April.

And the affiliated New Day Independent Media Committee, formed to bankroll pro-Kasich advertising, raised $600,000 in one day from two donors.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

On eve of Cleveland debate, Lake County murder plays into Donald Trump's immigration attack

Ohio has never been ground zero in the debate over immigration.

But when a Republican presidential field led by Donald Trump arrives here next week for its first debate, a case in neighboring Lake County could be a major flashpoint.

Officials say Juan Emmanuel Razo, 35, shot and killed Margaret Kostelnik in her Concord Township home Monday and attempted to rape a 14-year-old girl at nearby Helen Wyman Park. Razo also is accused of attempted murder related to the shooting of another woman.

During a traffic stop less than three weeks earlier, sheriff's deputies learned that Razo was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, a detective said at a Tuesday court hearing. Details of why Razo was stopped aren't clear. Razo was not arrested then. He has lived in the country for five years and had no criminal history locally.

Regardless, the scenario presents a told-you-so moment for the most vocal critics of President Barack Obama and U.S. immigration policy. And it feeds a broad-brush notion – perpetuated by Trump from the moment he stormed into the race last month – that undocumented immigrants are a threat not only to the economy but also to public safety.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why John Kasich ended his 2016 kickoff tour in Michigan

SOUTHFIELD, Michigan -- This isn't New Hampshire, with its independent politics and first-in-the-nation primary. It isn't Iowa, with its social conservatives and quirky, king-making caucus. And isn't South Carolina, gateway to southern Republicans.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich already spent considerable time in the first and briefly paid his respects in the other two this week as he launched his campaign for president.

So it was here, in Michigan, where Kasich completed his five-day kickoff tour with a big, three-event swing. The state does not receive the constant attention commanded by the three biggest prizes at the front end of the nomination fight. Its voters have not backed a GOP hopeful for president since 1988.

Nevertheless, Michigan has emerged as one of Kasich's biggest targets. It falls early enough in primary season that the governor, even if he starts slow, could be well-positioned for a breakout or at least pick up a good chunk of delegates. He and his advisers are banking on his blue-collar pitch playing well here.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Pro-Kasich super PAC staffs up

New Day for America, launched by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his allies to support Kasich's presidential ambitions, has reorganized as a so-called super PAC -- a political action committee that can spend unlimited cash.

With Kasich's White House bid now official, federal election laws prohibit him and his campaign advisers from coordinating with the operatives at New Day.

Nevertheless, the independent expenditure group will have several people quite  familiar with the Republican, his policies and his political thinking. Connie Wehrkamp, a longtime Kasich spokeswoman, joined New Day this week as press secretary.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Senate race ignites war of words between Ohio Democratic Party chairmen past and present

Ohio Democrats couldn't beat Republicans at the statewide level last year. Ever since they seem more interested in beating up on each other.

Take the latest feud surrounding next year's U.S. Senate primary, which pits the reliable, if predictable, Ted Strickland against the younger, if untested, PG Sittenfeld.

The winner is expected to face Republican incumbent Rob Portman.

Party Chairman David Pepper insists he didn't intend to start this fight last week when he told the Cincinnati Enquirer's editorial board that Sittenfeld, a Cincinnati city councilman, ran the risk of "moving too quickly" up the political ladder.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why not John Kasich? The obstacles Ohio's governor will face in his bid for president

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The "why" of John Kasich's latest presidential run wasn't always easy to hear Tuesday as the Ohio governor meandered through his 43-minute kickoff speech.

The one consistent theme, which Kasich returned to several times: Why not?

"They said it couldn't be done," Kasich said each time he led his audience down the path of some past political conquest. "We proved them wrong."

This was a great rallying cry for those already supporting him, as most of the 2,000 people who crammed into Ohio State University's Ohio Union are.

What it wasn't was the big-picture pitch one might expect from a White House hopeful who needs a strong start to rise in a field that already featured 15 other Republicans. But the message accurately summed up where Kasich sees himself in this race.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

An awkward day at the factory for John Kasich

ROCHESTER, N.H. – One by one, they file into the break room. Boss' orders.

"Grab a seat," Joe Shean says as chairs squeak on the tile. "Grab a seat."

Five workers huddle around the lunch table, their knees bouncing. A few others line the wall. They wear ball caps, cargo shorts and sleeveless tees that show off their tattoos.

A soon-to-be presidential candidate sits at the head of the table, one leg crossed over another. He wears dark dress slacks and a wrinkle-free checkered shirt with a firm collar and buttoned cuffs. His film crew hovers, shooting footage for ads.

Reality quickly sets in for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. "This is really the last place you guys want to be."

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How John Kasich's New Hampshire strategy is shaping up on the eve of his presidential run

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – The big cardboard sign that points the way toward Ruth Griffin's 90th birthday party is polite but firm. Invited guests only, please.

You're Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

You're about to launch a presidential campaign. You're polling so low that your team has dipped into the money early just to get your name and face on TV. You're among more than a dozen Republican candidates and one of eight or nine who probably need to win here in the nation's first primary state to have a prayer of winning the nomination.

For now, all that matters is that you have Griffin's invitation to blow on by that sign. And for the next hour, you will be the only White House hopeful her friends will meet.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Democratic presidential power rankings: Bernie Sanders draws big crowd, Joe Biden waits

There's no need for a spoiler alert to tell you very little has changed in the Democratic presidential race over the last month.

Yes, Hillary Clinton used a rope to keep a pack of reporters at bay.

Bernie Sanders is drawing big crowds.

And even though you may not have noticed, Jim Webb finally made it official.
But a certain state of blah hangs over the contest.
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See the power rankings

Republican presidential power rankings: Donald Trump is riding high in the polls. So what?

No Republican presidential hopeful dominated the last month quite like Donald Trump did.

He arrived at his June 16 campaign kickoff dramatically – via escalator – and then offended many with his comments about Mexican immigrants. Multiple companies, including NBC, which aired his long-running reality TV show and his Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, soon rushed to cut ties with the real estate mogul.

All the while, Trump climbed in the polls. He rocketed to second place nationally. And now GOP nonfactors such as George Pataki, aware that anything about Trump is a guaranteed headline, are attacking him to scavenge a few morsels of coverage.

Pataki, the former New York governor, is not among the top 10 in this month's Northeast Ohio Media Group power rankings of the Republican field.

And neither is Trump.

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See the power rankings

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Meet the advisers and insiders behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich's campaign for president

John Kasich has a coterie of longtime loyalists – a kitchen cabinet he has turned to time and again for counsel throughout his political career.

As Ohio's governor, he has a team of core advisers that for five years has been building the Kasich brand into something that can sell on a national stage.

And now that Kasich is about to launch his second campaign for president, these inner circles are fusing and expanding. Here are the names to know on Team Kasich.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

New fundraising group forms to boost John Kasich as he prepares to run for president

Ohio Gov. John Kasich's soon-to-be-official presidential campaign has another ally in the big-money chase.

New Day Independent Media Committee Inc. has filed initial paperwork to operate as a tax-exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Service's Section 527 rules.

Such organizations can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rick Hodges, defendant in landmark same-sex marriage case, gives reading at gay wedding in Ohio

Rick Hodges, head of Ohio's Department of Health and named defendant in the landmark case that ended last week with the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage nationwide, gave a Bible reading Thursday at a gay wedding.

Hodges stood at the Columbus nuptials of Steve George and Jeff Gatwood.

"Steve's been my friend for 25 years, and I am looking forward to celebrating with him," Hodges said by telephone shortly before the ceremony began.

A number of top Republicans, including Gov. John Kasich and his wife, Karen, were on hand for the celebration.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How John Kasich's budget deal -- and his 44 vetoes -- will play on the 2016 campaign trail

Gov. John Kasich didn't get the 23 percent income-tax cut he wanted. But as he prepares to make his White House campaign official, you can be sure he will point to the budget he signed Tuesday as a sign of sensible compromise.

That plan features a 6.3 percent, across-the-board reduction and inches Ohio closer toward Kasich's goal of eliminating the state's personal income tax.

And while tax cuts will understandably be a central talking point for a Republican eager to appeal to conservative voters, how about Kasich's 44 line-item vetoes? That's double the amount from two years ago. A close read of his explanations suggests a few political opportunities and risks as Kasich runs for president.

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